Throughout most of its history, Knoll was the chief competitor to Herman Miller. As the two main arbiters of mid-century modern furniture design in the United States, the brands were natural rivals. Herman Miller had Eames and Nelson, Knoll had Saarinen and Bertoia. As the decades went on, Herman Miller shifted its focus to office chairs, becoming synonymous with the idea of the ergonomic office chair following the 1994 release of the revolutionary Aeron chair. Knoll made office chairs too, but they never quite set the industry on fire like their old nemesis HM.
Well, times change, and so do companies. Since last year, Herman Miller and Knoll have been a part of the same company, the newly-merged conglomerate MillerKnoll. And now, under this new partnership, Knoll has released what is likely its most impressive — and most Herman Miller-like — ergonomic office chair to date in the Newson Task Chair.
The Newson Task Chair was designed by famed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson. Newson has previously had his hand in practically every type of product design imaginable, from co-founding Ikepod watches to designing first-class lounges as the creative director for Qantas to co-designing the original Apple Watch with his friend Jony Ive. And while Newson has previously designed loads of chairs, including the Newson Aluminum Chair for Knoll, the Newson Task Chair represents his first foray into office furniture.
The new task chair is, like Herman Miller’s office chairs, both an artistic design and an ergonomic one. The chair boasts a unique floating seat on a cantilevered platform, part of Newson’s quest to give its silhouette one continuous line, creating a striking shape that makes this office chair, dare I say it, cool. Color plays a role in the design, as well, with soft, monochromatic colors on the bulk of the chair’s surfaces contrasting with the brightly-colored and glossy control mechanisms.
Speaking of those control mechanisms, there’s some clever innovation going on there, too. Beneath the seat is the T1 Control, a new type of tilt mechanism that utilizes a hidden vertical spring system that allows the seat to float and which enables users to tailor their recline experience to their liking. The chair also offers a lot in the way of ergonomic back support through its Honeycomb Back that pairs a flexible nylon frame with a rubberized, thermoplastic elastomeric skin, supporting users in all positions of recline.
Now available from Knoll in a range of colors and upholsteries, the Newson Task Chair is priced from $1,195.